Move over ethnic chic, the fashion high street is looking at smart western cuts for the autumn-winter season. The look at the the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week -- which opened in the capital Thursday -- is essentially global and innovative with Indian bling and a social conscience.

As the market recovers from a downturn and business picks up pace, designers are expecting a surge of new chain store buyers from the Middle East and even Europe to keep the domestic fashion segment afloat.

The clothes, said a wide cross section of designers, have been influenced by business trends.

“My clothes for the fall-winter line are contemporary with lots of layers and textures. They are not ethnic chic though I have used Indian fabrics like brocades at the cuffs of my jersey suits and two-ply and three-ply silks for my evening dresses, boyfriend jackets and wrap-around outfits. The focus is on extended shoulders props and heavy Indian accessories that are really big and bling,” designer Ranna Gill told IANS.

Hemant Lalwani and Nandita Raipurani of Hemant & Nandita describe their collection as “glamour with a conscience”.

“The collection is known as ‘Fake It’ for power-dressers. We have tried to take out elements from nature and have used them in prints in a bid to say no to leather and animal slaughter. One does not have to literally dress to kill,” Raipurani told IANS.

The duo has created an animal line in digital prints with motifs of zebras, crocodiles and snakes.

Commenting on the design trends, Raipurani said: “Easy silhouettes with light drapes, kaftan dresses with roll-on improvisations, velvet, rexine and harem pants and fitted leggings are in”.

The designer, who sells her clothes in the Middle East and Europe has created two separate collections.

While the one for the Middle East is “elaborate with gemstone and swarovski embellishments”, the “European collection uses subtle cuts and Indian hemline embroidery minus bling”, the designer said.

Designer Charu Parashar’s collection is one of “Egyptian engineered prints inspired by palaces of the Pharaoh land.”

“I have used Egyptian architectural patterns for my power dresses. The focus is on colour print. I started working on the collection a month ago and wanted to do a colour print collection this time,” Parashar told IANS.

The line is a contemporary pret medley of short dresses, jackets with stiff and extended shoulders and kaftans with fluid lines.

“Colour, three-dimensional metal sequins, surface texturing, quilting, anchor thread work and dull gold matte embroidery add glitter to my structured cuts,” Parashar said. The designer sells across 42 retail outlets in India.

“This time, the clothes are all about being modern,” designer Kavita Bhartia told IANS.

“I have created an eclectic mix of clothes that takes the best of India to the world. The highlights of my collection are craft and workmanship featuring a combination of thread work in silks, georgettes and cottons. The cuts mould the body and the essence is western. I am looking at a global clientele.”

Designer Neeta Bhargava, whose hand painted couture collection has been inspired by the Save The Tiger campaign, said “entry of big foreign multinational labels have forced Indian designers to switch to a western look”.

“We have seen a sharp increase in demand for western clothes because they are easy to wear, easy to carry and are more trendy. Though drapes and flowing lines are still in fashion, Indian women are increasingly opting for evening dresses accessorised with high heels and stockings,” Bhargava told IANS.

The designer, who supplies prêt-wear to foreign buyers in bulk, has designed Indian cotton tops for the American market for as little as $20.